From the world's press


Quick navigation

Sydney, April 10, 1999

Nazi law: SA doctor charged


An Australian man who is the subject of Australia's first Federal human rights case alleging race hatred on the Internet has been arrested and charged in Germany with defaming the memory of Jewish Holocaust victims.

The director of the Adelaide Institute, Dr Fredrick Toben, was arrested and jailed yesterday in Germany while speaking to a German prosecutor in Mannheim.

He had previously freely admitted in his Web site travel diary that he was flying to Europe to "challenge the German ban on denying the Nazi genocide of Jews".

Dr Toben and his institute are the subject of a complaint by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) to the Human Rights Commission because of information on his and the institute's Web site suggesting there was no Holocaust.

He has been charged with "defaming the memory of the dead" and was due to face court in Mannheim last night Australian time, the prosecutor's office in Mannheim confirmed.

In his Web site travel diary, written in February, Dr Toben was quoted as saying about the visit:

  • "I have no intention of breaking German law, but I do want to talk to judges, prosecutors and others about the ban. I want to challenge the authorities there on the freedom of speech issue.
  • "The German authorities have to realise that discussing such things as the gas chambers is a legitimate intellectual exercise and that people should be able to discuss it without being called anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish or a hater of Israel.
  • "There are about 6,000 people being held in German prisons because they have been convicted of Holocaust denial. Many of them are members of various right-wing extremist groups but not all of them."

A German Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said last night that up until 1997 (the latest figures available) only eight people had been convicted under Article 130, Paragraph 3, of the country's penal law.

That law stated people "will be punished if someone denies or minimises acts committed [by] the Nazi regime", she said.

The maximum penalty was five years' jail or a fine.

Controversial British historian Dr David Irving, who has been prevented from coming to Australia to express his views on the Holocaust, yesterday defended Dr Toben and issued a statement expressing his "outrage". On Dr Irving's press statement were contact phone numbers for the assistant director of the Adelaide Institute, Mr Geoff Muirden, and the president of the Australian Civil Liberties Union, Mr John Bennett. Mr Bennett has previously claimed "exaggeration" of the Holocaust.

The vice-president of the ECAJ, Mr Jeremy Jones, said yesterday he found it hard to believe Dr Toben would have been unaware of the consequences of his visit to Germany

April 10, 1999
|Return to Clippings Index |

Sun-Herald, Sydney, April 11, 1999


Anti-Holocaust historian held in Germany

LONDON: Australian diplomats in Germany were mystified yesterday by reports of the arrest of a controversial historian, said to have been held by the Germans for disputing the Holocaust.

Frederick Toben, director of revisionist think tank the Adelaide Institute, was reported to have been arrested in Mannheim on arriving in Germany.

Colleagues, including the British revisionist historian David Irving and Adelaide Institute member David Brockschmidt, initially claimed that Dr Toben was the victim of a trap set by the German authorities.

However, the Adelaide Institute's Internet site contains quotes from Dr Toben which show that the German-born former teacher and school bus driver had

gone to Germany with the intention of challenging the authorities over freedom of speech.

Mr Irving and Mr Brockschmidt said Dr Toben was arrested during a meeting with a German government prosecutor and arrested on the grounds that he had "defamed the memory of the dead".

The offence is unique to German law where it is a crime to deny the Nazi genocide of Jews.

But diplomats at the Australian Embassy in Bonn said yesterday they had been unable to confirm Dr Toben's arrest.

"Our consulate in Frankfurt has made checks with the German authorities and they weren't able to confirm he was in Mannheim or anywhere else," embassy sources said.

"It's a mystery."

They said it was possible Dr Toben had been arrested but had exercised his privacy rights under German law and declined to contact the embassy for assistance.

German prison authorities confirmed they were dealing with the case but refused to discuss any details.

Mr Irving, whose application for a visa to visit Australia was rejected by the Federal Government in 1996, said he had written to the German embassy in London in protest and asked his supporters worldwide to lobby German missions.

Mr Irving was convicted in Germany after he claimed the gas chamber shown to tourists at the former concentration camp of Auschwitz was a dummy reconstructed after World War II.

©Focal Point 1999 e-mail:  write to David Irving